One of my principal goals at the University of Minnesota is to transform the university's entry-level geoscience program into an effective ''concluding'' geoscience course that provides students with a clear understanding of the many interactions between Earth processes and human society. Although place-based learning appeared to be a promising way to achieve that goal, I was initially concerned whether the urban character of the university's campus and student body, the program's size, and its rapidly overturning instructional staff might limit its effectiveness. To test its effectiveness in such an educational setting, I incorporated elements of place-based learning into a multiyear renovation of the university's Earth Sciences 1001 (ESCI 1001) laboratory program. Over half of the laboratory exercises are now place-based learning that explore historical interactions of Earth processes and Upper Midwest society. Since the initiative's goals differ from those of traditional introductory geoscience courses, assessment relied on student course evaluations and student perceptions of the place-based materials. After renovation, the place-based ESCI 1001 program was the most highly evaluated entry-level science laboratory program at the University of Minnesota. This confirmed that place-based learning can be a remarkably effective pedagogical approach to undergraduate geoscience education, even in large programs with predominantly urban student populations.